The season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , “The End,” has seen the team succeed in averting the Earth’s destruction. The timeline has been changed, but the triumph came at a terrible cost. Leopold Fitz, one of the show’s most popular heroes, has paid the ultimate price – but he can still return in season 6.
Season 5 has seen Fitz’s role develop in some fascinating, albeit unexpected, ways. He spent six months under arrest, trying to help General Hale track down the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. When Lance Hunter finally broke him out, Fitz decided to get to the future the long way round, entering cryogenic stasis in order to reach 2091. The experience of the Framework , and the subsequent stress of returning to the present and attempting to avert a dystopian future timeline , fragmented his mind. Fitz began suffering from multiple personality disorder, with the mind of “Leopold” from the Framework exerting a terrifying influence. This has cast a dark shadow over Fitz’s time as a newlywed.
Now Fitz’s story has come to a close. He’s given his life in an act of heroism, sacrificing himself in order to change the timeline. But is this truly the end for Leopold Fitz?
The only S.H.I.E.L.D. member to understand the science of temporal mechanics, Fitz has struggled to believe that the future can be changed. As teased in the Season 3 episode “Spacetime,” Fitz bought into the theory that the future cannot be changed. Once it has been experienced, it simply cannot be changed. Deke, however, has proposed an alternate model based on the idea of the Multiverse; this posits that timelines can diverge, that there’s a fork in the road where a single choice can save the planet.
At the crucial moment, Fitz and May realized that there are two people who won’t make it to the future; Mack and Polly, Robin’s mother. The two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents rush to the rescue, recognizing that a key moment may have arrived, and they’re actually successful. Fitz pays the price for his success, though, since he’s buried as a building falls on top of him. His friends briefly believe he’s okay, as he’s still alive when they begin to unbury him, but they find that Fitz has been cut through with a piece of metal. What follows is a heartbreaking death scene, as Fitz slips away.
But here’s the catch: Fitz’s story hasn’t come to an end. The future has been averted, meaning there’s now no need for a version of Fitz to wait in suspended animation, slumbering until 2091. The episode ends with the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents heading into space, seeking out Enoch’s spaceship. They know they can simply awake that version of Fitz, who’ll happily return to the team.
Sadly for poor Simmons, this is a version of Fitz who never proposed to Jemma, a version who never married her. To be fair, the wedding of Fitz and Simmons probably wasn’t legally binding anyway, given there’s no evidence Coulson has a license to conduct weddings. Perhaps more importantly, this version of Fitz is from before his mind fragmented. It’s true that his psyche is hardly undamaged; Fitz suffered brain damage in the first season, after all, and he still experienced the Framework. Still, with careful management, it’s entirely possible he’ll never wind up suffering from multiple personality disorder.
With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. renewed for a sixth season , the real question is whether or not any version of Fitz will find peace. So long as Fitz and Simmons stay with S.H.I.E.L.D., their lives are sure to be in a constant state of turmoil.